The Education Secretary has scrapped plans to strip children’s services from Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and accepted the council’s alternative proposal.
A report by Professor Julian Le Grand and Alan Wood had recommended in July that responsibilities should be taken away rom the authority and handed to an independent trust.
The council subsequently argued that the report’s model had “considerable limitations and legal complications”.
Doncaster put forward an alternative model called the Doncaster Children’s Trust which the council would design and commission working with its partners and the new Children’s Commissioner.
Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said she had now received a letter from Michael Gove saying he was “‘content to agree in principle to the establishment of Doncaster Children’s Trust, without the requirement to remove Doncaster’s children’s services functions entirely”.
Jones welcomed Gove’s change of mind. She said: “I am pleased the Secretary of State has rephrased his initial views and supports how we would wish to progress his original ‘arm’s length trust’ proposal.
“Supported by our partners, we put forward a compelling and well thought out case as to why this was the correct approach for transforming how children’s services are delivered across the borough. The model is based on what is right for Doncaster, our residents and most importantly our children and young people. We are strong advocates for the borough and were determined to put forward the strongest case which the Secretary has listened to and has now agreed to support.”
Jones added: “We look forward to work closing with the Government to finalise details of the trust and set about bringing the rapid and sustained improvement of children’s services we are all determined to achieve.”
Doncaster said it would work Alan Wood, the Commissioner for Children’s Social Care, to develop a timetable and implementation plan in the coming weeks.
The DCT trust will be established for a ten-year period with a review after five years as recommended in the Le Grand review. The Secretary of State will retain the power to step in if required in the future.
SOURCE: Local Government Lawyer